Health · chiropractic sciatica spinal adjustments · 2017-01-19 · Irvin Sconce

Anyone who has sciatica will definitely agree that the best treatment plan for them (aside from it being individualized), should be based on their diagnosis, symptoms, and response to different types of treatment. Contrary to popular belief, there is no one way to treat sciatica since different people have various ways of responding to drugs and methods of treatment that's why it's important to allot some observation time to figure out what does and does not work. If something is not working, it should be replaced immediately. Looking for possible ways to treat pain in the leg and lower back that's linked with sciatica requires some trial and error especially since some patients find other treatments far more effective than others. 

Now before we get to the nitty gritty details, let us first define sciatica: 

Sciatica, also known as radiculopathy, is a term that's usually used to describing symptoms of leg pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling that goes all the way to the lower back. It travels through the sciatc nerve which is located at the back of the leg. It's important to note that sciatica is not a diagnosis, but a way to describe symptoms. Other factors that can cause sciatica are spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, and hemiated disc. A few more common causes are: 

  • Lying on a very soft mattress
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Frequent wearing of high heels
  • Excess weight

While sciatica can easily be shrugged off as normal body pain, it puts the patient at risk of insomnia, loss of feeling, numbness, or paralysis of the limbs. Sciatica should actually be taken seriously and medical assistance should be seeked immediately. Failure to do so might cause it to develop into a more serious or complicated medical condition that cost an arm and a leg to treat. People who have experienced sciatica describe the pain as toothache-like, dull, sharp, achy, and it seems like there are hundreds of pins and needles in the area. Others liken the pain to that of an electric shock, where the sharp jolt is echoed throughout the body. 

Chiropractic Care

Studies show that one of the most effective ways to treat sciatica is through chiropractic care. This method of treatment is based on the principle that when the movement of the spinal cord is restricted, it can lead to reduced function and pain in different parts of the body. The good thing about chiropractic care is that it helps the body heal or recover from sciatica without the use of drugs and surgery. 

How It Works

The chiropractor first reviews the medical history of the patient and conducts a thorough examination to identify the source of the pain. Once the chiropractor has all the necessary information, he or she slowly starts to work on the spinal adjustments to restore vertebral bodies back to their original position. There are different types of adjustment techniques from the ones that have a combine minimal force and pressure, to ones that require a swift and high velocity thrust. The type of adjustment depends on the cause and what the patient needs that's why it's important that the chiropractor has all of the necessary information before proceeding with the treatment. 

The chiropractic treatment  for sciatica nclude: 

  • Spinal adjustments (also known as spinal manipulation) – this is the core of chiropractic care. When the spine is being manipulated, nerver irritability is lessened which is one of the factors causing the pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, and other symptoms linked with sciatica. Spinal adjustments are not at all painful, and are proven effective and safe. 
  • Ultrasound – this process involves the usage of gentle heat produced by sound waves that goes deep down into the tissues of the body. This method helps improve blood circulation and it lessens the pain, cramping, stiffness, muscle spasms, and swelling. 
  • Ice/Cold therapy – this method is effective when it comes to controlling or managing sciatic pain. This aslo a great way to reduce the inflammation. 
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – this method uses a battery-operated, portable machine that stimulates the muscles. This small, box-like equipment sends different intentsities of electrical current to lessen muscle spasms and to manage acute pain. There are much bigger versious of TENS units for home-use ad they're being utilized by rehab professionals, physical therapists, and chiropractors.


It's no secret that chiropractic treatment can effectively provide relief for people who have sciatica. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are limitations and the chiropractor will have to refer the patient to a different doctor. There are cases of sciatica caused by disorders that are not within the scope of chiropractic practice. It would be futile to still continue with the treatment. This is when the chiropractor needs to bring in another doctor whose expertise has something to do with the disorder that caused the sciatica. Doing the referral does not mean that the chiropractor will no longer be involved in the treatment process because he or she is still very much needed. Both the referring chirorpactor and the doctor will work hand in hand to design a treatment plan specifically for the patient. It's crucial that the patient is willing to work with both doctors and commit to the program because the whole process will require several sessions.